Keeping Wheels Turning

Craig Huntingdon (Scaleup North East)

Created by Craig Huntingdon (Scaleup North East), 4 months ago


In recent weeks I seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time discussing and debating the difference between growing and scaling a business, alongside answering the question – how can the Scaleup North East programme support the latter? I thought I would tackle the second and most straight-forward of these with a simple, real-world example of this enablement in practice.


Gavin Horwell and Tom Todd are owners of Seaham based business The Wheel Company who specialise in returning damaged alloy wheels back to manufacturers standard via a ‘remanufacturing’ process they have developed with significant capital investment. I’ve been fortunate to work with them as participants on the Scaleup programme and help to develop an action plan to tackle barriers to growth.


It was quickly identified that two very common issues were starting to affect their scale up status (growing by +20% year on year for three years consecutively) namely ‘access to talent’ and ‘under-developed infrastructure’.


With recent contract wins under their belt, The Wheel Company needed to invest in a second production line to provide additional capacity at peak times but also some redundancy so that output wasn’t affected by break-downs or maintenance. This would require significant investment and something I was able to assist with by sign-posting to several finance providers and grant programmes.


Access to talent however was, in my opinion, a much bigger issue as the business had failed to recruit staff effectivley or efficiently in the past and had a legacy of high turnover and low retention levels. Part of my remit as a Scaleup Partner is to enable and support a scale up ecosystem within the region by remaining constantly up to date on the vast array of business support, private and public programmes and a solid awareness of general business activity - ear to the ground stuff really.


On this occasion, the solution was front and centre of my thoughts in the shape of Zenith People, another of the businesses I am working with on the programme. Zenith are a successful recruitment business with a great track record in the automotive sector, amongst others. I was working with them to broaden their offer (target additional sectors) and deepen market penetration (pushing out into new areas). Zenith are also innovators and work with local schools and councils to deliver courses to students and the unemployed to ready them for work. Ideally at the end of each course, participants are given the opportunity to apply for a real job to satisfy the demand from Zeniths clients. It’s a neat model and works on a social and economic level.


Scaleup North East has facilitated The Wheel Company and Zenith People working together to formalise a relationship which last week saw the first new member of staff hit the ground running, a requirement of The Wheel Company, based on them needing to recruit incredibly quickly to maintain their growth. Zenith People of course now have a broader presence than their existing footprint in South Tyneside from which then can use to continue scaling their business with a larger geography and additional sector capability.


The programme has enabled both businesses to continue scaling by joining the dots, making connections and identifying the right solutions to help businesses break through perceived barriers. As more businesses join the programme, additional ‘solution providers’ are identified and the Scaleup team expand their knowledge base, we are helping to create and stimulate a scale up ecosystem that will provide even more favourable conditions for scaling businesses and a legacy to support others way past the scope of the programme, keeping the wheels turning.



Craig Huntingdon (Scaleup North East)

Created by Craig Huntingdon (Scaleup North East), 4 months ago